Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Ancient HistoryFrench Colonial HistorySpanish Colonial History
Medieval HistoryEarly Modern HistoryBritish Colonial History
Revolutionary HistoryEra of the Early RepublicAntebellum Period
Civil War and Early Reconstruction
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  • Time period: Antebellum Period (x)
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    Atalantis.  A Story of the Sea: In Three Parts.

    Atalantis. A Story of the Sea: In Three Parts.

    Antebellum Period | Poetry | J. & J. Harper | 1832
                William Gilmore Simms published Atalantis.  A Story of the Sea: In Three Parts in the fall of 1832.  While Simms’s name does not appear anywhere on or in the text, it is unlikely that he sought any type of anonymity in its publication.  Within weeks of its appearing in print a reviewer in the Charleston Courier announced, “It is attributed to the pen of our fellow-townsman, William Gilmore Simms, Esq.…”[1]  Even without such prompting anyone familiar with Simms’s work would have quickly recognized his authorship, because the opening sonnet was one that he had previously ...
    Beauchampe; or, The Kentucky Tragedy

    Beauchampe; or, The Kentucky Tragedy

    Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1856
                Early in the morning of 7 November 1825, in the town of Frankfort, KY, a young lawyer named Jereboam O. Beauchamp crept to the house of the state attorney general, Solomon P. Sharp, and stabbed him to death.  The murder was orchestrated to avenge the honor of Anna Cook[1], Beauchamp’s wife, who as a single woman had been seduced, impregnated, and abandoned by Sharp[2].  The event was a national sensation immediately following its discovery and Beauchamp’s capture days later.  Following Cook and Beauchamp’s failed joint suicide attempt and the latter’s subsequent execution, ...
    Border Beagles:  A Tale of Mississippi

    Border Beagles: A Tale of Mississippi

    Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1855
              In The Major Fiction of William Gilmore Simms, Mary Ann Wimsatt argues that Border Beagles, the sequel to the scandalous Richard Hurdis, shows Simms as continuing to explore the contentious relationship between the older, civilized tidewater south and the wild trans-mountain frontier.[1]  While thus continuing a theme begun with Guy Rivers and Richard Hurdis, Border Beagles saw Simms decidedly scaling back the violence found in those two books, especially the latter.  Here, the author’s presentation of the chaos and dangers of the frontier is tempered by humor, with ...
    Carl Werner, An Imaginative Story; with Other Tales of Imagination

    Carl Werner, An Imaginative Story; with Other Tales of Imagination

    Antebellum Period | Short Stories | George Adlard | 1838
               Carl Werner was published in December 1838 by George Adlard of New York.[1]  In the author’s advertisement, Simms classified the collected stories as “moral imaginative” tales, a form of allegory illuminating the “strifes between the rival moral principles of good and evil.”  Such stories, according to John C. Guilds, may often exploit supernatural elements, although it is not necessary.  Simms attributed the origin of the title story to “an ancient monkish legend,” as he set “Carl Werner” in the deepest parts of the German forest where the narrator and his friend ...
    Castle Dismal; or, The Bachelor

    Castle Dismal; or, The Bachelor's Christmas

    Antebellum Period | Novella | Burgess, Stringer & Co. | 1844
                A gothic tale of ghosts, infidelity, murder, and love, Castle Dismal follows the protagonist Ned Clifton, a “veteran bachelor” who fears the bonds of marriage, in his holiday visit to the home of married friends.  Set during the Christmas season in South Carolina, Simms’s story illustrates the southern custom of bringing together family around a table to feast; and while Clifton eventually marries Elizabeth Singleton—freeing him from the “melancholy dependencies of bachelorism”—Simms subverts naïve nineteenth-century notions of marriage and domesticity.[1]  Marked ...
    Charlemont; or, The Pride of the Village

    Charlemont; or, The Pride of the Village

    Antebellum Period | Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1856
                Early in the morning of 7 November 1825, in the town of Frankfort, KY, a young lawyer named Jereboam O. Beauchamp crept to the house of the state attorney general, Solomon P. Sharp, and stabbed him to death.  The murder was orchestrated to avenge the honor of Anna Cook[1], Beauchamp’s wife, who as a single woman had been seduced, impregnated, and abandoned by Sharp[2].  The event was a national sensation immediately following its discovery and Beauchamp’s capture days later.  Following Cook and Beauchamp’s failed joint suicide attempt and the latter’s subsequent execution, ...
    Helen Halsey, or The Swamp State of Conelachita: A Tale of the Borders

    Helen Halsey, or The Swamp State of Conelachita: A Tale of the Borders

    Antebellum Period | Novella | Burgess, Stringer & Co. | 1845
                    While one of the lesser-known of Simms’s border romances, the novella Helen Halsey is nevertheless a strong work, indicative of the overall project the author undertook in that series.  The first mention of Helen Halsey in the Letters was in June 1843.  By September, Simms told James Lawson that the work was “nearly ready.”  Helen Halsey was “to follow up” Simms’s ghost story Castle Dismal, a work he announces in the same letter to be sending to “the Harpers.”[1]  Letters to Lawson from this time period indicate that the author was interested in shopping ...
    Martin Faber and Other Tales

    Martin Faber and Other Tales

    Antebellum Period | Short Stories | Harper & Brothers | 1837
               One of the most important works in Simms’s development as a writer, Martin Faber has a long and intriguing publication history.  Originally published as a novella by J. & J. Harper of New York in 1833, it was revised and expanded for re-publication, alongside nine other short stories and a poem, as Martin Faber, the Story of a Criminal, and Other Tales, issued by Harper & Brothers in 1837.[1]  Simms biographer John Caldwell Guilds notes the significance of Martin Faber for the author, as its writing and Simms’s hopes for it, seemed to seriously alter his life in his late ...
    Martin Faber:  The Story of a Criminal

    Martin Faber: The Story of a Criminal

    Antebellum Period | Novella | J. & J. Harper | 1833
               One of the most important works in Simms’s development as a writer, Martin Faber has a long and intriguing publication history.  Originally published as a novella by J. & J. Harper of New York in 1833, it was revised and expanded for re-publication, alongside nine other short stories and a poem, as Martin Faber, the Story of a Criminal, and Other Tales, issued by Harper & Brothers in 1837.[1]  Simms biographer John Caldwell Guilds notes the significance of Martin Faber for the author, as its writing and Simms’s hopes for it, seemed to seriously alter his life in his late ...
    Southern Passages and Pictures

    Southern Passages and Pictures

    Antebellum Period | Poetry | George Adlard | 1839
                Southern Passages and Pictures is a volume of poetry by William Gilmore Simms, although his name is not mentioned directly on the title page. The work announced its author simply as the writer of “Atalantis,” “The Yemassee,” “Guy Rivers,” and “Carl Werner,” perhaps assuming that readers would know Simms in association with his authorship of these well-read works.  The volume was published in December of 1838 by George Adlard, who also published Carl Werner on Simms’s behalf.  Craighead and Allen were the Printers. Although Southern Passages and Pictures was published ...
    The History of South Carolina, from its First European Discovery to its Erection into a Republic

    The History of South Carolina, from its First European Discovery to its Erection into a Republic

    Antebellum Period | History | Redfield | 1860
                Believing it “necessary to the public man, as to the pupil,” Simms undertook The History of South Carolina explicitly for the education of the state’s young people, so as to tell them the vibrant history of the state and the distinguished accomplishments of her leaders.[1]  There is evidence to suggest that Simms was particularly motivated to write such a history in order to provide an historical account of South Carolina and notable South Carolinians, to his eldest child Augusta, who was attending boarding school in Massachusetts in the late 1830s.[2]  Simms seemingly ...
    Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction

    Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction

    Antebellum Period | Reviews/Essays | Wiley and Putnam | 1845 - 1846
              Part of the Wiley and Putnam’s highly influential Library of American Books, Simms’s two-volume Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction, shows the author theorizing the “American” aspects of American literature, as well as the relationship between America’s history and its imaginative writing.  In this, we can see Simms presenting and promoting the cultural agenda of the “Young America” movement, whose members included Melville, Poe, and Hawthorne.  Views and Reviews is thus a central text in understanding the struggle for defining American literature ...